The dark side of integrity–terror! :)

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As a therapist, I have a front row seat every day to displays of raw courage.

There ain’t nothing like it…I see people take enormous risks and say things out loud that they’ve never even dared form into an official thought inside their head.

It’s awesome…truly. A gift that clients give me daily is to witness and watch them take the plunge off a high mountain, and to watch as they giggle with wonder as the parachute works.  They didn’t know if they could, they didn’t know if it would work, they didn’t know if it would be worth it…but the parachute opens…and they have the exhilaration of floating gently back to firm ground knowing that because they took the risk of exploring something, they are more aware of their own power and strength.

Like is said, it’s awesome…who wouldn’t want to watch that?

Poster by Bergen and Associates Counselling stating: Therapy requires grit: tenacity, daring and vulnerability. Therapy is an act of courage.  Therapy is difficult, challenging and triumphant.  Folks that think therapy is for sissies have never been to therapy

I see a partner turn to his/her spouse, and after months of rockiness, dare to speak vulnerably out of their inner most self…to let the other know of the soft spot that has been hurt and has been so vehemently been protected with harshness and distance.  They tell me about the soft spot…and then I invite them to turn to their partner to tell their partner…and they look at me with deer-in-the-headlight eyes, that say, “You have just got to be kidding me.  Not a frosty chance.” And then two minutes later, they breath deep, draw hard on their courage.  And. Do. It.

And the entire room feels like holy ground.  It’s Ah-maze-ing.

I have guys tell me stuff that they have been thinking and feeling for decades, and never dared speak out loud. And they’ve always been told that to talk about this stuff makes them weak or wusses, and it will be terrible if they are candid about their soft spots.  But they do…and to their astonishment, the world does not swallow them up, and they don’t die, and they actually walk taller.

And the entire room again feels like holy ground.  Stupendous.

However, being around all this courage, and actively facilitating it, is profoundly awful in one very important way.

Integrity is mighty inconvenient!

To be around all that courage, and to encourage it, and witness it, and be inspired by it…means that when I am asked to do something that is terrifying to me…

I gotta walk the talk.

Sigh.  Yuck.  Insert multiple complaints and moaning and foot stomping here.

When Dana Foster, of Independent Chick asked me to guest on her Shaw TV television show and be her “relationship expert”, I tried telling her that one of my colleagues would be a better choice…you know, just cuz I’m generous and all (well, that and terror makes me very inclined to offer other opportunities that completely intimidate me).  She didn’t bite…said she wanted me. Insert sigh here.

So I lied and told her I would be delighted to do it.

Well, it’s wasn’t a total lie, but my first choice was to use every excuse in the book to say I’m too busy, the timing wasn’t right, the studio would be too warm, the bright lights might bother me, I had to wash my hair…or whatever might work. But…I’ve seen people take risks…and grow because of them.  I’ve never liked hypocrisy in others, so I followed in the footsteps of those I’ve watched go before me, to do things they only thought were impossible, but weren’t.  It was just hard.  And when we do hard things, it’s really empowering…and I was determined, gosh darn it, to get that empowered feeling.

I hate cameras, and microphones, and being recorded.  Seems to me a chance to appear foolish and have my ineptness be replayed over and over for many who don’t even know me to laugh at how incompetent I am. Some might say I’m catastrophizing…and they might be right…but don’t take away my ability to have a moment here.

So…I took the plunge, and I faced my terror…I drew deeply on my courage, and I lived to tell the tale. Dana was great–she believes in her cause and talking to someone who is passionate about helping women grow and flourish helps a lot.  Having my hair and makeup done by Bryna Wittenger of Blush Cosmetics was a little bit “fairy-princess-ish” in a way I’m not used to…and that was total fun.

And here it is:

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It may not be the world’s best interview, but I didn’t faint, and I spoke (mostly) in complete sentences, so we are going to call that “success”.  Feels good.  (mostly)

Thank you, clients…you know who you are…you gave me inspiration to venture into areas I wouldn’t have thought possible.

New things terrify me…but they exhilarate me too…you taught me that.

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